School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences is an evolving, culturally relevant course of study grounded in a respect for diversity and responsive to the needs and desires of the communities around us. We create an atmosphere in which we promote academic excellence by encouraging students to think, write and speak in ways that enhance their own development, their sense of community and their ability to deal with problems of injustice and equality, as well as their dedication to positive change.

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences consists of five divisions:

  • Culture, Arts & Communication
  • Politics, Philosophy & Public Affairs
  • Sciences & Mathematics
  • Social, Behavioral & Human Sciences
  • Social & Historical Studies

About the curriculum

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences curriculum is a program of study in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The focus of the curriculum is the comparative study of peoples, groups, societies, cultures and environments within the United States and selected regions of the world. To provide an interdisciplinary and comparative basis for the study of different groups, societies and cultures, the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences curriculum is organized around three general dimensions: Culture and Ideas (Fine Arts and Humanities), Society and the Individual (Social Sciences) and The Natural World (Natural Sciences).

The goals of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences curriculum are to help students:

  • Develop proficiency in skills such as writing and critical thinking that are needed for productive careers and gain mastery of a broad curriculum in the humanities, social sciences and environmental science
  • Achieve knowledge of the theories, concepts and methods of cross-cultural analysis
  • Understand the complexity of relations between groups, societies, cultures and natural environments, the history of these relations and the forces of social change
  • Gain a knowledge and appreciation of cultures other than their own while exploring the expression of cultural identity, thought and beliefs through literature and the other arts
  • Build experience in the analysis of environmental issues and their scientific basis

Majors

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences offers a bachelor of arts degree with majors in:

  • American Studies
  • Arts, Media and Culture
  • Communication
  • Environmental Studies
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Ethnic, Gender and Labor Studies
  • History
  • Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
  • Law and Policy
  • Politics, Philosophy and Economics
  • Psychology
  • Spanish Language and Cultures
  • Writing Studies

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences offers a bachelor of science degree with majors in:

  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Environmental Science
  • Mathematics

SIAS policy on multiple majors

Students wishing to pursue multiple majors with a bachelor of arts degree must complete 45 unique credits in each IAS major. If a course can count in more than one major, students may choose which major it should count under.

Concentrations

The Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences is also offered with concentrations in:

  • Global Studies
  • Individually-Designed Concentration

Minors

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences offers minors in the following areas:

  • American Indian Studies
  • Asian Studies
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Environmental Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Human Rights
  • Law and Policy
  • Mathematics
  • Museum Studies
  • Nonprofit Studies
  • Politics
  • Public History
  • Religious Studies
  • Restoration Ecology
  • Social Science Research Methods
  • Sociology
  • Spanish Language and Cultures
  • Sustainability
  • Technical Communication

For more information, please see the “Minors and Certificates” section.

SIAS policy on SIAS minors

Students wishing to receive a minor offered by the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at UW Tacoma must complete a minimum of 10 credits in the minor on the Tacoma campus.  Note: Some minors require more than 10 credits be completed on the Tacoma campus.

Certificates

Certificates are offered in:

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (offered jointly with Urban Studies)
  • Nonprofit Studies
  • Restoration Ecology

For more information, please see the “Minors and Certificates” section.

Advising

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with an SIAS advisor or a faculty advisor early in their careers at UW Tacoma. Advisors can:

  • Help students to select a major or concentration and determine a plan of study
  • Provide guidance on selection of courses
  • Offer advice about resources available to help students succeed academically
  • Assist students in identifying career and educational goals
  • Help students plan internships and independent studies and apply for graduation.

 

IAS Course Prefix Structure

American Studies................................... T AMST
Anthropology ......................................... T ANTH
Arts .......................................................... T ARTS
Biology.......................................................T BIOL
Biomedical Sciences ............................... TBIOMD
Chemistry................................................T CHEM
Communication...................................... T COM
Chinese.................................................... TCHIN
Cultural Studies...................................... TCULTR
Economics............................................... TECON
Environmental Science.......................... TESC
Environmental Studies.......................... TEST
Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies ..... T EGL
Film Studies............................................ T FILM
Geography.............................................. T GEOG
Geosciences...........................................T GEOS
Global Honors........................................ T GH
History.................................................... T HIST
General IAS............................................ TIAS
Law.........................................................T LAW
Lationo/a and Latin American Studies...TLAX
Literature............................................... T LIT
Mathematics......................................... TMATH
Nonprofit Public Affairs....................... TNPRFT
Philosophy............................................. T PHIL
Physics.................................................T PHYS
Political Science..................................... TPOL S
Psychology............................................. TPSYCH
Religion.................................................. TRELIG
Sociology............................................... T SOC
Spanish................................................. TSPAN
Women’s Studies.................................. T WOMN
Writing Instruction............................... TWRT

Independent Study Courses

Independent study courses are intended for students to do advanced work in a special area of study normally not offered in the regular curriculum. Students may enroll in these courses only after receiving written permission from the instructor who has agreed to supervise the student’s work. A total of no more than 15 credits of internships, senior thesis, directed readings and undergraduate research may be applied toward the bachelor of arts degree requirements.  (A maximum of 10 credits of internships may count toward the bachelor of arts degree.)

Study Abroad

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences faculty lead a number of study-abroad trips each year to places like Cuba, Mexico, China, Costa Rica, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom  and the Far East. Students tour museums, visit historical sites, learn about art and culture, study language, attend lectures and workshops, carry out research projects and experience daily life in a different culture. These programs range in length from one week to one month, and satisfy requirements in numerous majors.

For details, visit the International Programs website at tacoma.uw.edu/travel or talk to an academic or faculty advisor.

Honors

History Honors

History students in all options have the opportunity of graduating with History honors by fulfilling the requirements below:

  • Complete all requirements for the History BA
  • Maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA in all History (HIST/THIST) courses
  • Write a “Senior Honors Thesis” in the Capstone course and read a version of the thesis in a scholarly venue
  • Join Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society

Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Honors

IAS seniors may apply to graduate “with honors” in IAS. To begin the process, students should talk to an IAS staff or faculty advisor. The IAS honors option is different from, but can be pursued alongside, other UW Tacoma honors distinctions such as baccalaureate and faculty honors and various honor societies.

To qualify to graduate with honors in IAS, a student must:

Have earned a 3.7 cumulative GPA at the time of application and at graduation.

  • Submit a formal application to the IAS office.
  • Meet all program and major or concentration graduation requirements.
  • Write a graded senior honors thesis (10 credits, typically over two quarters—research the first quarter, writing the second). The honor thesis is to be arranged between the student and any full-time IAS faculty member.

Law and Policy Honors

Law and Policy students have the option of graduating with Law and Policy honors by fulfilling the requirements below:

  •  Students must have earned a 3.5 cumulative GPA at the time of application and at the time of graduation;
  • Students must submit a formal application for Law and Policy Honors to the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences office (WCG 424);
  • Students must meet all program and degree requirements;
  • Writing Requirement for Law and Policy Honors (student must fulfill one option listed below):
  • Students must have taken TWRT 211 Argument and Research in Writing or a 300 or 400-level TWRT course and earned at least a 3.0 in that class; 
  •  In addition to meeting the Law & Policy capstone requirement, students must take an additional section of TPOL S 480 Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Seminar and have earned at least a 3.5 in this class.

Politics, Philosophy and Economic Honors

PPE students have the option of graduating with PPE honors by fulfilling the requirements below:

  • Students must have earned a 3.5 cumulative GPA at the time of application and at the time of graduation;
  • Students must submit a formal application for PPE Honors to the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences office (WCG 424);
  • Students must meet all program and degree requirements;
  • Writing Requirement for PPE Honors (student must fulfill one option listed below):
  • Students must have taken TWRT 211 Argument and Research in Writing or a 300 or 400-level TWRT course and earned at least a 3.0 in that class; 
  •  In addition to meeting the PPE capstone requirement, students must take an additional section of TPOL S 480 Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Seminar and have earned at least a 3.5 in this class.